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The JennAir Disrupting Design program aims at creating access and opportunities, as well as providing actionable solutions to galvanize change, for racialized designers in the industry. The program is the result of research, listening and community input led by JennAir to determine how to improve accessibility in the design space and is supported through several key initiatives. 

As a first step, JennAir has collaborated with The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University to create the JennAir Scholars Award. The $375,000 scholarship will support Black, Indigenous and students of colour in the Bachelor of Interior Design program, and the planned Masters program, over five years. It is the highest dollar value design scholarship available at the University.  

The launch of the Disrupting Design program will assist in further understanding the gaps in the interior design sector and what can be done to bridge them. JennAir is committed to leading this program and doing it in a participatory way with the partnership of Toronto Metropolitan University and the guidance of an Advisory Board. Made up of industry leaders reflective of Canada’s diversity, the Advisory Board will provide guidance and recommendations to move the needle for diverse designers in Canada and will form JennAir’s short and long-term commitments and goals. 

On November 1, JennAir hosted its Disrupting Design event at the JennAir Experience Centre to officially launch the program. The evening included a panel discussion moderated by Tracy Moore sparking a powerful conversation on how to increase racial diversity in the design industry. Panelists included Ian Rolston, Founder of Decanthropy, President, Interior Designers Association of Canada, Natalie Ramtahal, Manager of Administration and Equity, School of Interior Design, Toronto Metropolitan University,and Brian K. Porter, Principal, Two Row Architect.


Meet the Disrupting Design
Advisory Board

Disrupting Design is guided by the expertise of an Advisory Board, a committee of eight members representing different diversity groups with deep professional knowledge and experience in the design sector and the diversity, equity and inclusion (DE+I) space in Canada: Ian Rolston, Byron Peart, Brian Porter, Natalie Ramtahal, Yasmien Fadl, Golnar Raissi, Emrul Hasan and Janice Ryder. 

Inspired by Disrupting Design's mission and purpose, the Advisory Board will advise JennAir on the shared approach, vision and priorities necessary to support the effective implementation of the program's mandate. Its members bring a wealth of expertise and passion to their roles and are instrumental in propelling conversations on DE+I in the design sector.

Meet the members of the Advisory Board
by clicking on their names/pictures!

  • Why did you start the Disrupting Design program?

    The past few years have sparked significant cultural change and required everyone, including industries, to reflect and seek ways to contribute to positive change and create a more inclusive and equitable Canada. As part of the design sector, JennAir has spent time listening and learning about the inequality of opportunity in our industry and is committed to playing our part to have an impact. There is currently no published data on the number of racialized designers in Canada but Toronto Metropolitan University, a leading educational institution in interior design, reports significant under-representation. In 2019, the University published the 2019 Student Diversity Self-ID Report to set a baseline for representation of students from equity groups (women, racialized people, Aborigional Peoples, persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQ+ people) as well from the three largest racialized groups (South Asian, Chinese and Black). The data showed the School of Interior Design was experiencing low representation of Indigenous, Black and South Asian students. In addition, we know that in Canada, across all programs, there is a significant gap in graduation and employment rates between racialized and non-racialized youth in the sector. These factors have led us to invest in the development of the JennAir Disrupting Design program.

  • What are you trying to achieve with the program? What will it change? 

    Through this program, our mission is to break the structural barriers for Black, Indigenous and people of colour to have better access to study and work in the design sector. We believe that better representation of racialized Canadians in interior design will drive stronger, more diverse design work.

  • What are your key focus areas over the next year? 

    The JennAir Disrupting Design program is aimed at creating access and opportunities for racialized designers in the industry. As a first step we have formed a partnership with The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University to create the JennAir Scholars Award - a $375,000 scholarship over five years to support Black, Indigenous and students of colour in the Bachelor of Interior Design program and planned Masters program. In addition, we have worked with TMU to create a paid internship program for design students offering real world experience to help build their resumes. Finally, for racialized design graduates at TMU, we have created a sponsorship program matching graduates with successful working interior designers. In addition to our work with TMU, JennAir commits to collaborating with three racialized designers each year for kitchen renovations. The designer's work would be featured on the JennAir website and social channels.

  • How were the key focus areas determined? 

    Over a year ago, JennAir conducted in-depth interviews with racialized designers in Canada to understand the barriers to better representation in the industry. To ensure the Program’s direction continues to be guided by those with lived experience, JennAir has established a Disrupting Design Advisory Board consisting of Black, Indigenous and industry leaders of colour. This board will guide the JennAir Disrupting Design program’s focus over the short and long term. 

  • Why does this program make sense for JennAir? 

    The JennAir Disrupting Design program is rooted in our brand history and its value of progress: born to lead, never to follow. We firmly believe that a more diverse industry will drive more progressive designs. Ultimately, we stand for progress and believe in investing in inclusion and diversity (I&D) initiatives to fuel change. At the same time, and as we have heard from design partners and industry leaders, fueling progress is also about taking stock of our internal I&D commitments. To this end, Whirlpool Canada, which markets the JennAir brand, has developed the Stronger Together team. This team of employees, supported by executive sponsors, are focussed on creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable and safe bringing their full self to work. 

    After forming in 2020, the Stronger Together committee invited employee input to inform areas of focus. Three work streams were created to foster a culture consistent with Whirlpool Corporation’s values of I&D within all levels of the organization: Celebrating Diversity, Understanding Microaggressions and Diversity Through Recruitment. Since the creation of the Stronger Together committee, Whirlpool Corporation has seen an improvement in the employee experience among equity-deserving groups. 

    Whirlpool Canada’s parent company, Whirlpool Corporation has deep rooted values of integrity and respect that drive our commitment to employees and to the communities in which we operate. We strive to provide a collaborative, safe and welcoming environment to ensure that Whirlpool Corp. is the best place to work and a place where our employees truly feel welcomed, valued, heard and respected. Additionally, we are dedicated to improving the quality of life for all who reside in the communities in which we operate. You can read more about Whirlpool Corporation’s ESG efforts in our 2021 ESG/Sustainability Report linked here.

  • Why is the program a differentiator in the design space? 

    As a brand that pushes the boundaries of progress, JennAir has taken time to listen, reflect and do our own work in order to launch an impactful, sustainable and authentic strategy for Disrupting Design. We recognize that driving change requires time, learning, resources and financial support from businesses across our industry. We are taking steps to do our part, which is why we are proud to say that the JennAir Scholars Award is the largest scholarship with mentorship and job placement programs for racialized youth entering the design sector in Canada. We also realize that there is still a lot to learn. Part of why the JennAir Disrupting Design program is being launched is to further understand the gaps in the sector and what can be done to bridge them. We are committed to leading this program and doing it in a participatory way with the collaboration of Toronto Metropolitan University and the guidance of the Advisory Board. We are dedicated to listening to the designers most affected by underrepresentation - Black, Indigenous and designers of colour—and are creating platforms to bring their voices to the forefront.


For more information and a list of brands, visit our website or contact us

Ian Rolston​

Ian Rolston is a creative soul, inspired by connecting humanity to what matters most. After working for the world’s top brands and companies, he founded Decanthropy, an equity design consultancy that develops equity initiatives for brands, spaces, and built environments that make change, immediate, effective and measurable.

As a thought leader, multi-sector designer, and speaker, Rolston encourages relying on one’s sense of humanity to inform the practice of design. Rolston’s insights, studio workshops, project collaborations and equity strategies help leaders design better spaces to Life in.

Byron Peart​

Byron Peart is the co-founder and co-CEO of GOODEE - a black owned, B-Corp certified home and lifestyle online marketplace leading the charge by curating a unique array of impactful products and stories from around the globe, that connect at the intersection of good design and good purpose.

Byron graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree, major in Economics at the University of Western Ontario, Canada in 1994, and for five years ventured on to lead senior executive marketing roles in the fashion and design industry. In 1999, together with his twin brother and business partner, Dexter Peart, he co-founded the internationally recognized WANT lifestyle brand, emboldened with a desire to inspire and build a leading global manufacturing, wholesale distribution and retail business. Over two decades, the industry leader has successfully launched and scaled a variety of exclusive international brands (including Acne Studios, Maison Kitsune Paris, and Tomorrowland Japan) into the North American market. He has also successfully built and co-creative directed the environmentally responsible and globally acclaimed accessories brand WANT Les Essentiels.

The entrepreneurial design duo successfully sold their ownership in 2017, and set out on a new venture with the complimentary aim of launching and developing meaningful home goods brands. Notably this time, the pair decided to work exclusively with products and items that make a strong social or environmental impact. Launched in Summer 2019, Byron leads the global e-commerce platform and storytelling destination GOODEE (headquartered in Montreal, Canada) and oversees a committed team of employees, consultants and contributors across all continents. In 2021, Goodee was recognized by the leading publication Fast Company as one of 2021 World’s Most Innovative Companies.

Brian Porter​

Brian hails from Six Nations of the Grand River. He has been a business leader for many years, designing and overseeing the construction of projects for First Nation communities across Canada and the United States. He has demonstrated success in designing culturally appropriate projects for these communities and has worked to maximize the participation of First Nation skills and trades. Two Row Architect promotes Indigenous values in design by imbedding traditional knowledge into buildings using current building technology while actively promoting the creative and environmentally conscious use of building materials.

Natalie Ramtahal​

Natalie is the Manager of Administration and Equity in the School of Interior Design and a Ph.D. student in the joint Communication and Culture program at York/TMU. Natalie has worked in post-secondary education, research, policy, and equity and community inclusion (ECI) for over fifteen years. She is deeply committed to ECI and has worked to advance equity and diversity through her professional and volunteer work. Her own research looks at the potential of cryptocurrency as a form of wealth generation and remittance to the global south, specifically Jamaica and the Philippines.​

Yasmien Fadl​

Originally from Sudan, Yasmien grew up in the in UAE & Canada. She is a creative strategist with 17 years of multi-disciplinary interior design, thought leadership, workplace strategy, change management and project delivery experience on the consulting and client side. She has worked overseas and in Canada in multiple design sectors (mainly retail, hospitality and workplace), and is currently the Head of Workplace Design, Experience & Change Management for TD Enterprise Real Estate. Her core focus is crafting people-centric workplace experiences that are resonant, inclusive, responsive and meaningful: “The workplace experience should be the product of thoughtful, proactive decisioning that meets the moment – Diversity is our collective strength, and our workspaces, policies and leadership should reflect that.​

Golnar Raissi​

Golnar Raissi is a senior interior designer and team lead at Mayhew Inc. where she gets to work on many different commercial and residential projects.

As a registered member of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), Golnar has had the privilege of serving as a director on the board of management. In addition, she is the co-chair of The Communications and the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement committees at ARIDO.

At the same time, she continues her academic contribution to interior design studies as a director on Humber College’s advisory board for the Bachelor of Interior Design program.

Emrul Hasan

Emrul is a highly sought after, passionate and transformational leader with extensive experience in executive leadership and management revolving around the strategic planning, development and execution of ESG, CSR and DE+I initiatives. He is a certified sustainability professional and trained in major ESG reporting standards and frameworks with decades of experience across the full spectrum of ESG scenarios, having worked with a diverse roster of organizations and their supply chains including within the financial, extractive, and retail sectors globally. Emrul has experience in supporting 15 major global and Canadian brands in sustainability/ESG/DE+I strategy, reputational and regulatory risk management, social impact measurement, and net-zero pathway strategy.

Emrul has previously served as the Vice President of Program Effectiveness and Quality of Plan International Canada, leading five of the organization's sectors, such as its Program Effectiveness unit, climate change and resilient team and Policy and Advocacy unit. Emrul was also a member and Co-chair of the CSO Partnership Advisory Group (CPAG) to advise Global Affairs Canada on implementing CSO's partnership policy. He was also an Executive Lead for the DE+I effort in Plan Canada and a member of the Anti-racism and Equity Council of Plan International.​

Highly skilled and experienced in a plethora of topics and contexts related to ESG, CSR and DE+I, Emrul is recognized as a thought leader through his work and publications. He has been invited to speak as a keynote speaker at over 25 high-profile conferences, such as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) events, Intersessional UN Expert meetings, and the Senate of Canada at the Standing Senate Committee hearing on Human Rights. Emrul is often called upon by media, governments, and government agencies on an international scale to deliver his breadth and depth of expertise in such areas.

Janice Ryder

Janice Ryder has over 15 years of experience in brand and commercial leadership and is currently the Senior Manager of Brand Experience at Whirlpool Canada. In this role, she aims to bring the brand purpose to life in meaningful ways in the Canadian market. It was this objective that sparked the idea for the JennAir Disrupting Design Program. Janice is passionate about advancing DE&I initiatives within her organization as well. She is a workstream lead of the Whirlpool Canada Stronger Together team, an ERG that aims to foster diversity, equity and inclusion enabling all employees to feel comfortable and safe to bring their whole self to work.

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